Why don’t Americans take climate change as seriously as everyone else?

Why don’t Americans take climate change as seriously as everyone else?

“The present U.S. position of no new agreement until post- 2020 is really blowing negotiations apart,” Papua New Guinea’s chief climate delegate, Kevin Conrad, said.

“We can’t wait for the U.S.,” Italian Environment Minister Corrado Clini said.

‘It is a betrayal not just of small island nations, many of whom would be destined for extinction, but a betrayal of all humanity. There are no plausible technical, economic or legal impediments for not taking the actions required by science,” said Ambassador Dessima Williams, Permanent Representative of Grenada to the United Nations and Chair of the Alliance of Small Island States.

In the corridors here at COP17, a negotiator for the US delegation gave 3 reasons Americans don’t want the Obama administration to commit to the emissions reductions scientists say are necessary to avoid dangerous climate change.

1)    Americans don’t feel the impacts of climate change. Sure there are droughts. Sure there are floods. Sure there are hurricanes. But we’ve always had those.

2)    Americans think that doing anything to reduce emissions will just make life more difficult and more expensive. It’ll be more expensive to drive our cars and turn on the lights at home.

3)    Americans are isolated from the rest of the world. We’ve got two oceans and friendly neighbors (Canada and Mexico) that make it difficult to empathize with other countries.

What do you think?

Are these just convenient excuses? Are there other reasons?

After watching this conference for almost two weeks, I’ve begun to suspect that it is not about climate change at all.

It is actually the dark side of “winning the future,” and winning the next election.

Is it possible that what is really happening is that Americans fear the increasing power and influence of emerging economies and want to maintain advantages in international trade, whatever the cost?

Some very smart and dedicated people are doing their best to convince the Obama administration to change its tune and with the final hours of COP17 approaching, I’m hoping for a breakthrough.